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Generally favorable reviews- based on 140 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 140

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  1. Dec 24, 2011
    I must agree with some other reviewers, this movie is 104 minutes, but seemed like 240 minutes. Wasn't bad per say, but does have some major flaws, such as extremely unbelievable relationships (e.g. the father and the younger gay man; the main character and his girlfriend), just didn't buy any of it. The ending too, really had no ending, which I"m cool with, but when combined with all the other flaws of the movie, was too much to bear. Go watch "Another Year" and enjoy instead. Expand
  2. Jul 18, 2011
    Ewan McGregor stars as a troubled son. He just can't seem to handle a relationship with a woman and is preoccupied with sadness. Meanwhile, his father (Christopher Plummer) announces he's gay at 75, a subplot that adds the only life and warmth to the film. Oh yes, flashbacks to the childhood connection with his mother make regular appearances. All of this wandering thru a fluid timeline results in a numbingly navel-gazing, somewhat arty examination of life, love and happiness. Too heady to be enjoyable. Expand
  3. Jun 8, 2011
    It was painful to watch a badly produced movie when you see brilliant actors on a screen without direction. The "beginners" theme was lost before it began. The passion in the relationships was lackadaisical and pathetic. The purpose of the actors' lives was lost and perfunctory. The comments of some of the audience were "horrible movie" and such.. Personally, I kept waiting for a surge of purpose and it never materialized. Please stop this release and save us the pain. Expand
  4. Oct 24, 2011
    Punch Drunk Love. You wish. Its Punch Drunk Love without the drunk and Love. So its just punch.. Which is just a berry drink. And it has no alcohol. Its boring. Just like this film. And rambling. Like this review. This movie only tells one tale for me...that the director must be pompous and arrogant.
  5. Jun 3, 2011
    i only wish I could give this film a higher score than 'ten'. Beginners is quirky but beautiful--a small, creative, subtle, character driven kind of film, while still successfully moving the audience. It is comparable to modern romantic comedies like (500) Days of Summer, although more mature smart. Classic Woody Allen films come to mind when attempting to describe this gem (partially due to the prevalent old-school jazz soundtrack), although Beginners lacks the overt neurosis (which may be a positive depending on one's opinion). It grabs your heart and mind and refuses to let go, proving that Beginners will be a film that I continue to think about and admire for a long, long time. Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and Christopher Plummer are all visions. Highly recommended. Expand
  6. Jul 28, 2011
    Beginners is a bad film with good parts. The only good parts in the film were that some scenes were funny and it wasent the most boring film ive ever seen. My problems witht he film is its a bit boring, they use alot of the same scenes over and over, it felt like the director didnt know what to put in the scene so he decided to put in that scene and the characters werent to interesting to follow. I would only recommend seeing it if you really want to but for me i'd pass. Expand
  7. Dec 17, 2011
    This is probably the film I'm most disappointed with, despite the fact that it was ok. So, Ewan McGregor stars as a graphic designer. Sporadically set in flashbacks ranging from 1955-2007, McGregor discovers that his father, a 75 year old, is gay. His mother already died from cancer, and McGregor finds out his father will soon die too. Along this emotional rollercoaster, McGregor meets a French actress who rarely speaks, played by Melanie Laurent. Their relationship blossoms after the death of his father, and he discovers her fragile past as well. So, a few things worked with others, so let's start with the positives. Most of the acting (see next paragraph for exception) was fantastic in this film, especially from Christopher Plummer, who played the father. His performance deserves some Academy recognition, even if it's just a nominee. I also was a fan of how this film dealt with its numerous dark topics. From cancer to abuse, the film covers so many topics in an 104 minute film, and glosses over them so easily.
    The main con in this film is, honestly, it isn't that interesting. The first half of this film is pretty dull, and even though it tries to test our interest with wit every few minutes, the funniest person is the dog who's thoughts are narrated through subtitles. I also wasn't a fan of Melanie Laurent, who played McGregor's girlfriend. Her character just wasn't believable, and she had practically no lines in the movie. I felt as if her character was just squeezed in there to make the whole love plot go through.
    I thought the film, in three words, was: disappointing, mediocre, quirky. It wears its quirky, ironic heart on its sleeve and I respect that. But, the film does have some pretty surprising flaws, and for that, I give the film a...
  8. Jun 13, 2011
    The trailer seemed to suggest the movie was mostly about the Ewan McGregor character and his relationship with his father who comes out of the closet at age 75 and professes he is gay. It isn't. It is mostly about Ewan McGregor and the new woman in his life that he meets after his father dies, and how he has never been able to commit to a relationship once he gets serious with a woman. The filmmaker seems to suggest he can't commit due to the fact that his mother and father were not close when he was growing up. PLEASE. Of course, the new woman he meets has commitment issues herself. You feel like slapping these people and saying GROW UP already and enjoy each other. Why all the unnecessary drama? Also, I absolutely HATE graffiti, and these people spray graffiti all over the city with glee. DISGUSTING. Even the beginning of the film made me cringe when he is pouring a bunch of pills and medicine in a toilet which is not the proper way to dispose of medications (it pollutes). The scenes between McGregor and his father (played wonderfully by Christopher Plummer) worked GREAT. I wish the whole film was about those two. I'm a big Woody Allen fan and I was hoping this would be similar to his films but it seriously lacked the drama and humor and great dialogue of a Woody Allen film. Disappointing. Expand
  9. Dec 5, 2011
    Great little film and probably Ewan McGregor's best in years. Portrays significant depth of emotional and sociological ideals such as growing old, finding love and dealing with inner demons. So may layers are peeled back slowly throughout the film, allowing the viewer to really feel each characters pain and burdens. Melanie Laurent shows herself to be a true gem, and a talent of the future.
  10. Feb 21, 2012
    Beginners is a movie about couple relationships, and it can be compare with Annie Hall, 500 Days of Summer and The Future, because they are very similar to real life, they are not a fairytale or an always happy ending story.
    This film compares and contrasts three couples, the one of Oliver with Ana, Hal with Georgia, and Hal with Andy. The first one is trying to arise in a world where
    everything is temporary; the second one is trying to be what they are not and trying to have what they have not; and the third one is trying to get their last chance to love, this couple appear when Georgia dies and Hal discovers that he is gay.
    The topic that treats this picture is the evolution of couple relationships during the last two centuries. In 1950 the relations were simpler, a couple shows how happy is their life, but is constantly hiding their problems under the carpet, so the sad moments never occur; and according to the movie those moments plus serious talk, are the foundation of a modern relationship. That is why Oliver and Ana go through ups and downs, in order to get what they really what, for what they are being waiting for a lifetime.
    Although it is a little bit slow and redundant, the film has amazing performances; the one of Christopher Plummer definitely deserves an Academy Award. The direction, script, music and montage are very well done.
  11. Feb 13, 2012
    For all its merits, I just did not really connect with this film. Yes, it was rather wittily written, with interesting situations and dialogue. It had very good acting, especially from McGregor who, in my opinion, overshadowed Plummer who did not strike me as anything out of the ordinary. Same thing happened with Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine" - I would have never expected him to get the Oscar. Anyway, the film as it is, is rather interesting and somewhat entertaining. What is lacking, though, is the connecting with the characters. While many have written about how real the characters felt, I had a rational understanding for that, but just could not connect to them at all. Usually I like films like this, but this just did not resonate with me all that much. Expand
  12. BKM
    Dec 20, 2011
    The film's indie vibe and quirkiness prevent it from being a truly immersive experience, but the superb performances from Plummer and McGregor provide an emotional kick nevertheless.
  13. Lyn
    Dec 26, 2011
    At every point in the story when things could take a goofy or soapy turn, the film opts instead for an honest laugh or a gentle sadness -- it's a subtle approach that really works. Christopher Plummer is superb as usual. McGregor's character's actions are odd at times, but then you remember what he's dealing with as a son: astounding revelations about his parents, and now they're both dead. The "back and forth in time" device, which can feel like a cliche, works well here. It helps us understand the son and in the end, wish him well. Expand
  14. Feb 6, 2012
    A pointless pretentious, arty, waste of time. You don't care about the characters, the acting is sub-par and there's no plot or angle. I don't know how anyone can like this garbage. I do no recommend you wasting a minute of your time watching this trash.
  15. Jan 18, 2012
    Taking its cues from Annie Hall, the whimsy feels genuine in the first half supported by a wonderfully executed girl-meets-boy scene and a cool narrative structure. Somewhere in the center when fireworks explode in the sky and the new couple take to a hotel lobby on rollerskates (with cute dog in tow) it all begins to feel dialed in and hardly as substantial a movie experience you're hoping for.
  16. Dec 16, 2011
    Fresh, witty, original, my sister told me that the movie was boring but she is crazy, this movie was wonderful.! Plummer or Plummer fantastic, Mélanie Laurent very good, and MacGregor great.!
  17. Jun 11, 2011
    Completely original movie making at its best!. Wonderfully affecting. Plummer, MacGregor (his finest role to date) and Laurent are outstanding. You can't take your eyes off any one of them. The relationship between father and son is real. The romance between would-be lovers is painfully tentative and true. The subtitles by a dog who can't talk but can understand "150 words" is wonderfully amusing. Four stars all the way!!! Expand
  18. Jan 12, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Beginners is a film about life, and the hugely contrasting ways you can view it. Are you gay or straight? An optimist or a pessimist? A romantic or realist? These questions are discussed with great insight and wit by writer/director Mike Mills, whose life the main events of the film are based. The cast are extremely strong - Ewan McGregor giving an understated, but ever engaging performance as Oliver, a graphic designer who has recently lost his father and steadily spirals into depression. Melanie Laurent also impresses as Anna, a jobbing actress who is terrified of a committed relationship with Oliver and the impact it could have on her career. Most of all though, Christopher Plummer absolutely captivates you in every scene he's in. He plays Hal, Oliver's father, who decides to come out as gay aged 75 on the tragic death of his wife Georgia (the brilliantly kooky Mary Page Keller). Plummer plays against type, which is refreshing, but not the main reason to savour his performance. What really blew me away about his performance was how well-developed, relateable and instantly believable he made Hal as a character, which is thankful because he is the driving force behind most of the events of the film - if Hal didn't emotionally resonate with us, then neither would the film as a whole. Shortly after his coming out, Hal is diagnosed with cancer, and must find the balance between receiving treatment and enjoying the liberation of his new life with young partner Andy (Goran Visnjik), and all the while Oliver worries and contemplates his lifelong inability to communicate with his father. The story is told very creatively, frequently jumping backwards and forwards, with Oliver's retrospective, thoughtful voiceover giving some insight into how he felt at the particular moment we are watching. The film is deeply personal, emotionally compelling and often very funny. I personally don't see the point in subtitling the Hal's dog Arthur's thoughts - it's an interesting idea, but adds very little to the film, appearing to be just quirky for the sake of it. I also found the finale a little underwhelming, with the rest of the film feeling so narratively tight and full of ideas, the final moments appear a little unfocused and somewhat emotionally soppy. These minor points aside, Beginners is without doubt one of the best films of 2011, with an outstanding performance from Plummer, great writing, and through being an immensely rewarding viewing experience in general. Expand
  19. Aug 23, 2011
    Beginners is an absolute gem of a film. The acting is grade-A with a younger star like Ewan Mcgregor (once again) proving his high capabilities and an experienced celebrity, Christoper Plummer, maintaining his high quality work. This films individuality, quirks, humor, and genius come in the editing. Many scenes seem unnecessary and disconnected but they serve a higher purpose of outwardly representing what so much of a relationship is. Do not mistake this film as a gay-pride motion picture; it's much more than that. Beginners will lift you through the spectrum of emotions and drop you off breathless. I recommend Beginners to every open-minded, emotional human-- others may not appreciate. Expand
  20. Aug 7, 2011
    Excellent Movie... thoroughly enjoyed the quirky characters and by the way Melanie Laurent is stunning. The relationship between Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGreggor is interesting as is the way Ewan is able to come to terms with his gay father, Christopher Plummer.
  21. Jul 17, 2011
    Beautiful and heart breaking as if Vintage Woody Allen met vintage Wong Kar Wai. A fantastic cast acting their socks off and a talking dog that actually works. Go see.
  22. Aug 17, 2011
    It's beautiful, touching and humorous all at the same time, with a brilliant cast (particularly Christopher Plummer) and premise. I left the cinema feeling like I could watch it again straight away.
  23. Oct 21, 2011
    Beginners begins with loss, the loss of a parent. However its this event that brings about what I can only describe as one of the most heartfelt, gripping and powerful movie experiences.
    Beginners is the story of Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) a son trying to handle the loss of his father who died only 2 months prior. However he is also looking back on his father Hal's (Christopher
    Plummer) life following the death of his mother, when Hal came out as a gay man (a moment handled so beautifully I might add). The story is one of both men trying to find love in their own way with Hal finally being able to accept who he is and Oliver trying to get over the significant commitment issues he has. In this regard Beginners succeeds with Oliver meeting a french actress called Anna (Melanie Laurent) and Hal meeting a young paranoid gay man named Andy (Goran Visjnic). Together the four leads provide some outstanding performances with Christopher Plummer being incredibly vibrant and entertaining while conveying Hal's wonder at how the gay scene had changed with him enjoying every minute of his new life despite the fact he has just been diagnosed with cancer. McGregor is an engaging lead with his performance showing incredible versatility with Oliver being very closed off at first and then much more emotionally enthralling later on. Laurent and Visjnic are equally gripping with the latter bringing his characters flamboyant nature to life while also hinting at the characters fears about his acceptance within society. Beginners flourishes in its quirky tone and manages the time jumps from Oliver's present (2003) to his fathers 4 years as an openly out gay man, to Oliver's childhood with his mother. The film actually benefits from this approach with there being moments where Oliver does something that seems totally random (like say hello to his house, his dining room, his bedroom) and the flashbacks show that not only is it not random it is Oliver's way of connecting to the man he lost just as he was finally getting to know him.
    The film plays to its strengths with the idea of silence meaning more than words, especially with Laurent's Anna who has laryngitis when we first meet her at a costume party. Despite this obvious problem the communication between Oliver and Anna is incredibly honest and the evolution of their relationship is realistic while quirky, touching but not overtly emotional and ever so slightly adorable.

    The overall result is a film that makes the viewer think but also allows them to lose themselves in a world of great characters and engaging story thanks to some outstanding direction, acting and editing. A film I will be thinking about for days, maybe even weeks.
  24. Nov 16, 2011
    This movie may be is going to make you feel bad at the beginning but at the end is you're just gonna feel happy about it, the message of the movie is clear: we can not impede that bad things happen the important is how we face it and how are we dispose to begin again, is simply EXCELLENT
  25. Sep 16, 2012
    Sometimes you only realise certain things until something shocking happens. This poignant tale, which somehow goes a little over the top, tells us of the fragility of human emotion and expression, a tale of how life goes on and what we learn along the way. I loved the incorporation of the cute little dog and his subtitles of his thoughts - films never really do that, but it gave us a different perspective of not just human nature. It was crazy at times, there wasn't much talking and sometimes I felt it wasn't really trying too hard to not be what it was supposed to - an art-house film. I still find it very thought-provoking, though, and the beautiful inter-mix of humour and sadness evoked so many other emotions. Ewan McGregor was great for this role, and I can't deny the others their applause either. Expand
  26. Dec 2, 2011
    I missed not having a closer relationship with my dad. The movie hints at it but is not blatant about it. Oliver had no reason to be afraid of a relationship. I wanted to reach out and slap him. The characters were real, warm, honest, loving. At some points in our lives we are all Beginners; Oliver was always one. There is hope that he will grow. The film stands out because the homosexuality is not a major player, rather the people and their relationships is what it is about. I cried a bit, laughed a little, smiled a lot, and enjoyed the film. No thinking, just feeling. Two things did bother me: the editing and/or the actual time shifting and Ms. Laurent being nude in one scene. Must every movie show a nude female when it has no relevance to the story? Collapse
  27. Dec 16, 2011
    This movie is a very beautiful unpretentious romance. The characters are indeed very interesting, which, i believe, is made possible by the amazing actors who play them.
    It puts us very stealthily out of our comfort zone, making us question things like life and love. People should give it a shot even if just for the unusual experience Beginners grant us with it's smart non-linear story.
    do understand some critics to this movie as being slow or boring though. I think that both cinema and life itself has gotten so spectacularized (in a Guy Debordian sense) that we are somehow surprised by the calm and simple atmosphere posed in this film. But that's something we should dislike in our society, not in art. Actually, it's the subtle construction that makes this piece so good.
    (I don't think I was very clear, but I'm sure some of you will understand; anyway... there are always other reviews)
  28. Aug 24, 2014
    Filled with truly warm and tender moments, this film is a story of how powerful the human relationship can be. The chemistry between Christopher Plummer and Ewan MacGregor is incredible. Two of the best performances of their careers.
  29. Mar 21, 2012
    This movie is is supposed to be a comedy!?!? HOW?? my god.. everything was so depressing! there was nothing even remotely funny about this movie.. i felt like a migraine was coming on.. Really disappointing.. the movie just left me really really confused..
  30. Aug 5, 2012
    There are few things I enjoy as much as a character driven drama. The problem always lies when there is little to no emotional payoff for the characters. For me that was definitely the case in Beginners. I know Mcgregor and Plummer get the publicity, but the character I enjoyed the most in this film was played by Laurent. I think the biggest problem for me is that there were too many threads in this movie to properly give us enough exposition to have a satisfying payoff. This movie was well acted, and the plot line between McGregor and Laurent did have a nice payoff. Past that, a bit of a jumbled mess for me. Expand
  31. Jun 4, 2012
    Reminiscent of classic moves like American Beauty. Enjoyable cast. Imaginative writting. Creative. Maybe a bit slow, but I thought the pace was moreso appropriate.
  32. Aug 10, 2012
    A slow and contemplative film from Mike Mills, the writer/director behind "Thumbsucker." If you commit to and stay with the story here, the pay-off is most certainly worth the effort. Also, Christopher Plummer definitely deserved the Oscar for his role, as he was mesmerizing.

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Jul 18, 2011
    With good performances and characters, Beginners is an enjoyable, amusing and occasionally poignant watch. Indie film fans will want to catch it, but it falls short of being a must-see.
  2. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jun 30, 2011
    McGregor hasn't been this appealing or vulnerable in ages, and in both of the film's love stories, he exemplifies Mills' message.
  3. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jun 24, 2011
    A lovably quirky comedy-drama with a rhythm all its own.